from the Archives

Mid Century Marvels

Read Time: 2 mins

Synopsis of the November 1996 Ocean Drive article by Tom Austin with photographs by Bill Wisser entitled, “Mid Century Marvels; A new tour and increasing appreciation are spurring interest in Miami Beach’s legendary—but threatened —atomic age architecture.”

“….In the 50’s, the hotels got bigger and more outlandish, deco on steroids, behemoths of bold glamour that absorbed elements of everything and anything… From this bizarre hybrid sprang a new atomic age architecture, the embodiment of the American dream in the process of reinventing itself. In the interest of not repeating bad history…the Miami Design Preservation League, concerned citizens and Miami Beach officials such as historic preservation coordinator William Cary—-is working to save these threatened buildings within the middle and upper Beaches, lately besieged by a host of enormous abortions upon the skyline…The first step is a Dade County-wide plan to protect the work of Morris Lapidus, responsible for the Fontainbleau and Eden Roc ….There are also efforts to move the current historic-district parameters past 23rd Street and eventually incorporating the entire length of Collins Avenue, a process that may save the few remaining kitsch palaces in Sunny Isles….this month MDPL historic preservation director Randall Robinson will begin conducting public walking tours of Mid Beach, laden with the marvels of design that set Miami apart…All of the saved hotels are a record of pleasures past, but they also serve as signposts that mark and shape our existence, profoundly affecting the way we think, act and live. Once a great building is gone, it’s gone forever, and it becomes easier to let others die in the dust…”

November 1996 Ocean Drive article
The Versailles Hotel designed by Roy France who also did the National and the St. Moritz Hotels

The Sea Isle Hotel reaching for the sky standing next to the Sans Souci to its north.

"The striking back of the Eden Roc, 1954's Hotel of the Year"

What would Miami Beach be like without Historic Art Deco, Mediterranean, and MiMo buildings?

Join Us: Become a Member

Help MDPL remain independent and sustain our mission to preserve, protect, and promote. Annual memberships start at $50 and include free walking tours and more.

Explore the MDPL Archives